‘Wonder Woman’ #0 is certainly the most clever of the zero issues I’ve read so far this month! Written and drawn in a style that is a throwback to the Silver Age, this tale follows a tween Diana, coming of age on Paradise Island, decked out in a youthful variation of her famous star-spangled costume, a la the classic Wonder Girl tales of old. This look, however is more modern and armor-like than the flimsy blouse and shorts version of old. Like in the original Wonder Girl tales, we see a slightly brash, daring Diana risking her life on fun escapades, like stealing a harpy’s egg in the opening of this tale.
The narration and dialogue is amusingly over-written toward the beginning, with lines like “The plucky princess plunges into the icy water, leaving the horrible harpy hapless!” Later, Queen Hippolyta delivers the stilted line “Diana, it is I, Queen Hippolyta– your mother!” It seems like bad writing, but it’s intentional, in tribute to the way comics actually used to be written. Later, a classic Greek monster is depicted as wearing briefs, like Fin Fang Foom and other creatures from that era.
Likewise, Cliff Chiang emulates the art style of Wonder Woman illustrators past, like Don Heck. The opening splash is cleaner and brighter than Chiang’s usual art on this title. Since the book deals with Diana at the ages of twelve and thirteen, she retains a simple clean look throughout, but overall, the rest of book resembles the detailed style of the regular series.
The story tells of Diana becoming acquainted with Ares, who takes her under his wing and trains her beyond the typical Amazon teachings. We get a flashback of Diana sparring with Aleka, her rival from the early issues of this series. It makes better sense why she exists and is not Artemis, since she and Diana were children together, along with other girls. It still remains odd that Diana had no clue as to the Amazons’ “mating ritual.” There is also another reference to Diana’s “schoolyard” nickname, “Clay”– nice continuity.
In training with Ares, Diana shows some of the ambition that will one day make her the Amazons’ champion. She is eager to learn at his hand and even presses him to allow her to wield an actual sword instead of a wooden one. Ares then dispatches her to conquer a classic Greek threat, but another trait that Diana personifies ends up conflicting with this assignment. Ares is angered, but it reinforces the essence of Diana.
It was nice to see the creators of this book really step up to the challenge of a zero (origin) issue and really have fun with it! They didn’t simply retell Wonder Woman’s origin– which has been radically revised in the regular issues of this book– but created an homage to the wacky old Wonder Woman/Girl tales from the hero’s Silver Age. This series, like many other New 52 titles, seems far removed from any of the pre-existing continuity, so this nod was certainly welcome… and surprising as those old stories were considered not in continuity before this.
This series in general is pretty dark. This issue was very whimsical and light. It was a welcome change of pace. It explores Diana’s seemingly contradictory nature, a least in some readers’ eyes– preaching love, while serving as the ultimate warrior. And the artwork, as usual, is excellent!
WONDER WOMAN #0
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art and Cover by Cliff Chiang